Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 - 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York.
At a young age he became fascinated with the Far East, and at fourteen he began to write and was published in the Journal of the London Buddhist Lodge before writing his first booklet on Zen in 1932. He was profoundly influenced by the East Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Buddhism, and by Taoist thought, which is reflected in Zen poetry and the arts of China and Japan.
After teaching at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, he became Dean and began to give regular radio talks on KPFA, the Berkeley free radio station. In 1957, he published his bestselling Way of Zen, and in 1958 returned to Europe where he met with C.G. Jung.
By the late sixties, he had become a counterculture celebrity, and traveled widely to speak at universities and growth centers across the US and Europe. By the early seventies he had become a foremost interpreter of Eastern thought for the West.
Alan Watts developed an extensive audio library of nearly 400 talks and wrote more than 25 books during his lifetime, including his final volume, Tao: The Watercourse Way. He died in his sleep in November of 1973.
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